As the year comes to a close, Smartmom takes a backward glance at some highlights of the past year. And what a year it was (hint: anxiety is the theme):
Smartmom’s 2008 got off to a nutzy start with loads of anxiety about the middle school application process, turning 50 (which was months off but it was never to soon to start stressing) and whether she was feeling emotional and nostalgic enough about it being OSFO’s last year in elementary school.
Talk about neurotic.
In February, Smartmom threw herself in the middle of the great Union Hall stroller controversy that ensued after Union Hall, the bocce bar popular with hipsters, rockers and new moms, decided to prohibit strollers.
Slope Stroller moms went ballistic. But Smartmom had a slightly different view: “Yes, it’s convenient to bring your kid with you if you don’t have a babysitter. But do parents really need their Rob Roy with a side of rug rats?” she wrote.
Later, though, she broke the news that the bar decided to welcome in moms and their kids for some downtime (and drinks!) a few afternoons a week. A nice compromise.
In March, Smartmom tried to quell the Babeland controversy of 2008 before it even got started. For the record: Smartmom couldn’t wait for the May opening of Babeland, the woman-friendly sex toys shop on Bergen Street off Fifth Avenue, even if the New York Post managed to find some prudish moms to quote. Smartmom was all for it; she never met a vibrator she didn’t like.
In April, Smartmom outsmarted then-New York Sun columnist, Lenore Skenazy, who was Parent Enemy Number 1 when she let her 9-year old take the subway home from Manhattan. By himself.
The ensuing hysteria landed Skenazy on all the talk shows defending her seemingly indefensible position. She let her little baby — just a few years out of Mommy and Me classes! — ride the big bad subway. She must be chastised! She’s worse than that woman who drowned her kids in the tub!
But Smartmom defended Skenazy — heck, Smartmom rode the subways when she was 9 (back in the bad old 1970s when the city really was dangerous). So let ’em ride, Smartmom said.
Not that she’d let the 11-year-old Oh So Feisty One ride the subway. Let’s not get crazy here!
In May, Smartmom freaked out again because Jennifer Connolly and uber-cute Paul Bettany decided to up and sell their mansion in the Slope. Not surprisingly, Smartmom took it personally.
“Why would anyone — especially anyone with a house like that?! — leave Park Slope for Tribeca? Why would anyone give up a view of Olmsted’s magnificent Prospect Park for one featuring the West Side Highway and New Jersey?” Smartmom wrote.
Clearly, Connelly and Bettany’s Manhattan move called into question everything that people like Smartmom hold dear. That house on the corner of Carroll Street is a Slope dream, a home to lust over: a historic, 5,200-square-foot mansion crammed with architectural details and facing a beloved park. If they were miserable in a house like that, what does that say about the rest of us? (You got it: we’re more miserable!)
Soon after, Smartmom was mouthing off about Miley Cyrus’s right to bare-all on the pages of Vanity Fair. And Teen Spirit’s right to give himself a buzz cut.
But Smartmom realized that this seemingly self-destructive act made all the sense in the world. Both Teen Spirit and Miley Cyrus are adolescents. Both felt the need to reinvent themselves and show the world that they won’t be defined by their public personas (in Miley’s case, she’s not happy always being Hannah Montana; in Teen Spirit’s case, it was clearly time to throw off the look of the slacker dude who just doesn’t care).
In August, it was a rite of passage on par with the Bar Mitzvah Teen Spirit didn’t have: his first Bob Dylan concert. A passing of the torch, Smartmom gave her son the coveted tickets she bought on-line.
It was his turn. Besides, she was there through her son’s eyes and ears. Plus, she got to hear about it in the morning. “He can’t sustain a note,” Teen Spirit told her. “He basically just yells the words.”
On Sept. 7, Smartmom’s dad, a legendary advertising copywriter and creative director, author, songwriter, connoisseur of art, literature, music, philosophy, birdwatching, opera, and thoroughbred horse racing, died peacefully in his Brooklyn Heights home, surrounded by loving family members.
October saw a world economic collapse and it was the old “what do you tell your kids when bad things happen” thing all over again. The recent Wall Street meltdown and the subsequent cries of doom and gloom about the nation’s economy are pretty scary for any kid paying attention. How do you explain it without making your kid feel really, really scared?
November may have been the momentous and tear-inducing election of Obama as the first African-American president, but it in Park Slope, it was the great turquoise turmoil of 2008 when OSFO showed up at school with a large streak of turquoise in her hair. The entire class of middle schoolers made fun of Smartmom’s girl.
So what was Smartmom’s first reaction? You guessed it — panic.
Before she even had a chance to talk to OSFO, Smartmom made an appointment at Medusa Hair Salon to get the turquoise dye taken out. Talk about putting the colorist before the conversation.
“I like it and I want to keep it,” her girl said. Way to go.
So at the end of 2008, Smartmom’s greatest lesson was from her own girl: listen to your heart and don’t get cowed by the crowd. Not bad.
In December, Teen Spirit announced that he’s doing a gap year and Smartmom had to wrap her head around that. Best and Oldest’s daughter got into Brown on early decision (and threw Smartmom into a fit of envy during a pedicure) while another friend’s teen is behaving like a runaway train. When she called, Smartmom barely knew what to say.
It’s not like it hasn’t been a wild ride with Teen Spirit (hah!) But as usual, Smartmom doesn’t have the easy answers or sure-fire solutions. It’s not like she has a parenting column in a local newspaper or anything …